Chapter 551: Better
Amidst the chaos, Thales’ voice echoed loud and clear throughout the hall.
The duke breaking his silence obviously carried weight. The entire banquet hall fell silent.
Anker’s sword rested on Old Doyle’s neck, leaving the latter panting in anxiety.
Thales pushed Mallos, who was blocking him subconsciously, away and stood out in the crowd, speaking from the tier second only to the king’s seating, “Your words, your story, your bitter experience, has been heard by the entire Mindis Hall.”
His tone was stern, “Is that not enough?”
Anker looked up. For the first time, he met the gaze of the heir of the kingdom without interference and obstruction.
“So, Your Highness, do you, like everyone else, intend to use exceedingly sensible reasons and excuses to obstruct deserved justice?”
“So your past, your reputation, including what you said in your opening speech, are all lies?”
Mallos and Vogel glanced at each other, exchanging only worry and apprehension.
Thales felt that at this moment, all gazes were directly and unreservedly focused on him.
Whether it was guardian dukes like Zayen, Koshder, and Val.
Or Seven Jadestar Attendants and Central Territory dignitaries like Viscount Adrian and Lady Elainor.
Or those from the king’s party and new nobles like Count Godwin and Viscount Kenney.
Along with distinguished guests of various categories and professions such as soldiers, government officials, and superintendents.
Their gazes weighed on his vocal cords like an enormous boulder.
As if it was about to offset the respect and deference he had received at the banquet.
“I am not a judge. I have no right to define justice.”
Thales frowned as he looked into those eyes that were filled with determination and death. “But your actions today have been grandiose enough.
“Even though it has only served to burn your bridges.”
Anker breathed distractedly.
“Bloodshed might make someone listen.”
Thales glanced around and tried to steady his voice that was still changing due to puberty.
“But if the listener is merely in seek of novelty, then it would be of no benefit.”
The crowd buzzed.
“As for debasing oneself!” Thales continued loudly, “Even if they manage to temporarily evade the bitter pill, their end will undoubtedly be bleak and full of regrets.”
Anker turned around and looked at the Old Doyle who was trembling under his sword.
“Your Highness, as rumored, you speak incisively, I can hardly argue.
“No wonder you managed to protect the dignity and interests of Constellation while in the barbarous and perilous Northland.”
Anker’s gaze turned harsh.
“But I’m not here to hear you preach.
“What I’m here for is—revenge.”
“Then trust me. Put down your weapon, and leave it to a fair verdict.” Thales made an effort to maintain his authority as Duke of Star Lake. “No point in resorting to private punishment and harming lives.”
He continued with a serious expression, “A revenge that lacks justice is tantamount to despicable murder.”
Vogel and Mallos seemed to be conversing behind him, but Thales could not make it out.
Anker looked around subconsciously. He seemed lost amidst the chatter of the crowd.
Until his gaze, indignant and quizzical, found the duke again.
Anker stared at Thales and slipped into a daze for a split second.
He clenched his teeth as his voice trembled. “No, Duke Thales. No.”
“My father clutched his weapon tightly in his arms, embraced his regret towards his ancestors and bloodline on his deathbed, on land passed down through generations. And before I even had time to bury him, I was forced to travel thousands of miles and all over, until today, I can finally stand before you.”
He roared, “That’s murder!
“Where is his justice?”
Under his sword, Baron Doyle, quivering, interrupted, “I didn’t do anything. Your father died of illness…”
Anker turned around sharply, frightening the baron so much that he swallowed his own words.
“After you took everything from him!
“After you used despicable methods,” Anker’s voice was hoarse from shouting, “to drive him to the edge of the cliff!”
Thales reached a hand downward to stop Mallos from sending men to tow him back into the formation.
Anker roared on furiously, “Everyone, open your eyes and see. Such entrapment and humiliation, how is it different from murder?!”
Pandemonium broke out.
There was a cacophony of discourse but the focus of their discussion varied.
Baron Doyle was quivering. Seeing that the situation was unfavorable, he struggled to speak. “Your father had no money, I gave him a loan. He mortgaged land, I accepted the mortgage…”
Doyle, on the other hand, was so nervous that he could not look away. Under Glover’s restraint, he watched his father defend himself.
“Your people had no work, no food. I employed labor and gave them wages. What’s wrong with that?
“Such is the normal operation of suzerains. Take a good look. It’s been going on for years…”
Old Doyle shut his eyes and tried to ignore the terrifying sword.
“The entire kingdom, from Central Territory to Blade Edge Hill, whether it’s Eastern Sea or South Coast…
“Where is this not the case?”
At these words, the crowd burst into an uproar.
Count Godwin tried to maintain order but with little success.
Thales frowned deeply.
And Anker, who held the baron’s life in his hands, grew even more incensed.
“Damn it. Not in Western Desert!”
His roar shook the entire Mindis Hall, “And not in Crow Caw City where I was raised!”
The guests started to get rowdier. The guards had to work harder to hold back those who were standing closer forward.
Until, at the dukes’ table in the distance, Koshder Nanchester opened his perceptive sole eye.
“Not in Land of Cliffs either.”
He looked towards Val Arunde who was in shackles and under the strict supervision of the royal guards. The latter continued to pour himself wine and was seemingly in a good mood.
“And not in the Northern Territory.”
One-Eyed Dragon let out a long sigh, and allowed his words to be heard throughout the hall, “In the past, this was not the case in the entire kingdom.”
The Seven Jadestar Attendants had mixed expressions. In contrast, Duke Zayen raised his eyebrows and looked amused.
Thales clenched his fists and glared at the rabble-rousing ruler of the Land of Cliffs.
But Koshder merely looked at him from afar and shook his head.
Which made Thales doubtful.
The guests slowly quietened, leaving behind inexpressible gravity and wariness.
Encouraged, there was renewed hope in Anker’s eyes.
Young Byrael gripped the baron’s shoulder and pointed his sword at the top of his head.
“I’m sure all of you can empathize with my actions!”
Seeing that he was in trouble, Baron Doyle could only keep his mouth shut obediently.
“Damn it. He came prepared.”
Vogel was exasperated as he watched the change in the guests’ expressions. “He’s turned this into a confrontation between His Majesty and Western Desert, Central and regional.”
But Mallos shook his head.
Thales knew he could not let the situation develop further. His reprimand echoed throughout the entire hall, “Then prove it!”
“Anker Byrael, if you think you are doing the right thing, prove it to me that: you are here to seek justice for your father, not just for pleasure and self-gratification.”
Anker turned his attention to the Duke of Star Lake again.
“Pleasure and gratification?”
The hostage-taker took a deep breath. “The reason I came here is because I trust you, Your Highness.”
Thales was taken aback. He replied cautiously, “Me?”
Anker looked respectful as he went down on one knee, but his left hand did not leave Baron Doyle’s shoulder blade. “On a personal note, Your Highness…
“Your adoptive father, Lord Mahn, was born in Western Desert, and has served His Majesty faithfully for many years.
“My father served together with him and they fought alongside each other in the Desert War. Their friendship ran deep.”
Thales’ breathing staggered.
“And the Byrael family has been through hell and highwater for you in clearing the way for your return.
“You quelled the fighting at Blade Fangs Camp. Your reputation spread across the Western Desert and was praised.”
Anker’s gaze burned bright. “Legendary Wing was by your side, Four-Eyed Skull gifted you a treasured sword, the Kroma family escorted you with thousands of troops. Even the eminent Black Lion of Brave Souls Fort went to the trouble of traveling a long distance to lead the way.”
Murmurs could again be heard from the crowd. For many, it was the first time they had ever heard of such ‘first-hand’ knowledge.
Thales remained unfazed but sighed deep down inside.
It dawned on him that the significance of Fakenhaz gifting him the treasured sword was indeed considerable.
“Officially, Your Highness…
“You headed North to be a hostage, sacrificing yourself for the sake of the people.
“When you defended the dignity of the kingdom, none of the Northland barbarians dared attack you.”
Listening to this, Thales could sense countless gazes shuttling back and forth between Anker and himself, making him uncomfortable.
“You personally experienced dangers and witnessed the most legendary power shift in Eckstedt.
“Northland barbarians see you as a hated enemy but Constellatiates revere you as their hero.”
Anker was stirred up. His voice became hoarse by the end. “Your Highness, your glorious achievements in Northland prove that you are a rare, fresh breeze in Constellation—you are the last warm blood of this inherited kingdom, this great empire.
“Everyone has been awaiting your return.
“And my father.”
At these words, the chatter was revived.
But the wise ones held their tongues and kept silent.
The only thing they had in common was: everyone looked towards the Duke of Star Lake.
Out of sight, Thales clenched his fists.
Living in dependence in Eckstedt, in Dragon Clouds City, Northlanders either looked at him with hatred and animosity, or with vigilance and disdain masked by courtesy. Dead Face Nicholas was representative of the former, while Regent Lisban was the manifestation of the latter. The officials of Dragon Clouds City were even less bridled by scruples.
It was unpleasant.
For the past six years, Thales preferred to be alone in the library, or in a random corner in Heroic Spirit Palace, reading, sleeping, or merely be lost in thought. He even required Wya to keep a distance of twenty meters away from him.
He used to think that was bad enough.
Here and now, standing in Mindis Hall, standing on his own territory, facing his fellow citizens, sensing a mixture of hopeful, admiring, wary and even inquisitive glances…
“No,” Vogel faintly sensed the severity of the problem, and whispered, “His Highness is the heir to the throne, member of the Jadestar family, and representative of Renaissance Palace.
“But he is not His Majesty, not the king, not the official ruler of the kingdom.”
Mallos nodded, then shook his head. “But unfortunately he is the master of Mindis Hall, and the Duke of Star Lake that has the right to assist in the administration of the country.
“Since he has just returned, enjoys an excellent reputation, and has no foundation, he can easily be manipulated.”
The vigilance in the watchman’s eyes magnified. “This is why they have turned to him.”
The vice-captain turned around. “They?”
Mallos did not respond.
Listening to their private conversation, Thales became even more solemn.
Anker’s gaze turned stern as he raised his voice and said, “This man under my sword, and his accomplices…”
He stuck out his short sword and pressed it against the old baron—who had just taken the opportunity earlier to regain his breath—and continued furiously, “By conspiring to murder a hereditary noble with a baron title, they have violated the Holy Constitution of Constellation signed by ‘Black Eye’ John the Second in Year 50 of the Calendar of Eradication!”
Thales’ eyebrows twitched!
“By serving a master other than their established fief lord, the Byrael family, and making private gains, they have breached the Loyalty Law established in Year 340 by ‘The Jackal’ Sumer the Third!”
Facing hundreds, Anker shouted angrily, “By underreporting production and circumventing tax regulation behind the king and suzerain’s back, they have flouted the King’s Tax Law proclaimed in Year 414 by ‘The Creditor’ Alan the Third!”
Holy Constitution of Constellation, Loyalty Law, King’s Tax Law…
Thales clenched his fists.
Damn it. These laws, some he only knew by name, some Gilbert have yet to teach him.
Amidst the murmur of the crowd, Vogel looked displeased. “The situation is clear. He came prepared.”
He took a step forward and whispered behind Thales, “Your Highness, no matter what he says, you need to stand firm, and stay aligned with His Majesty and Renaissance Palace…”
But Mallos was expressionless as he cut him short, “No.”
Vogel turned around in surprise.
In the hall, Anker’s voice continued to reverberate. “By disrespecting local customs, interfering in the autonomy of cities and towns, and engaging in bribery with servants of the king, they have contravened the Regulations on Elected Officials enacted in Year 512 by ‘Virtuous King’ King Mindis the Third!”
He stared fixedly at the composed Duke of Star Lake.
“By leasing their land and transferring said land privately, they desecrated sacred feudal land and infringed the Land Assessment Order issued in Year 655 by your grandfather, ‘Long Reign King’ Aydi the Second!
“By illegally exporting the wartime grain reserves of Western Desert to the Desert region and Eckstedt, they have blatantly flouted the State of Emergency Control Order that was passed by your father 11 years ago due to the Desert War, and still in force at the borders!”
Baron Doyle’s expression turned sour in disbelief.
Regulations on Elected Officials, Land Assessment Order, State of Emergency Control Order…
In the face of the increasingly noisy crowd, Thales knew that things were not going well.
This was far beyond the knowledge that he had been cramming for the past few months.
Behind the prince, Mallos said softly, “Doyle is a Seven Jadestar Attendant under Renaissance Palace, Byrael is a regional vassal under Fakenhaz.”
“Doyle is a deep-rooted old noble family with a long history,” the watchman’s expression was calm but his words were solemn, “Byrael is a new noble family that arose out of the war, just over a century old.”
Vogel’s gaze flickered.
“Doyle employs new methods like banding together with merchants and resorting to market contracts to annex land and alter their ownership rights…”
Mallos continued, “Whereas Byrael cited the Land Assessment Order and other statues in self-defense, just to preserve their old feudal lands and uphold old constitutional traditions.”
Vogel reacted and looked at Mallos in disbelief.
Mallos looked back at him and nodded. “Doyle has been far from the political core and only tried to affiliate themselves with the royal family after His Highness’ return.
“Whereas Byrael brazenly bypassed the Duke of Western Desert and headed straight for Eternal Star City, requesting that a regional matter be decided by Central.”
The royal guards pondered this and were collectively shocked. Mallos sighed. “Can you imagine how many people, matters and interests are involved in all this?
“Ultimately, who represents Central, who represents regional? Who is the new order, who is old jurisprudence? Who is upholding the king’s sovereignty, who is subverting the kingdom?
“Can anyone get to the bottom of it?”
Mallos looked towards Anker, who was standing in the center of the hall and loudly recounting the crimes of his enemy.
“This is no longer a simple matter of picking one of two choices.
“New and old, ruler and vassal, father and son, central and regional, fiscal, land and tax laws, governing methods—countless factors are at play and endlessly entangled. It cannot be resolved by simply picking a side.”
Upon hearing his personal guard captain’s words, Thales felt his body stiffen.
“Each choice and its handling will have consequences of their own; there is no perfect solution. Just like flour and sand mixed together, it will be impossible to single one out from the other.
“This is politics at its most typical.”
Solemnity descended again on the watchman’s face and he no longer looked calm.
“Those who have set this trap, whoever they are,” Mallos said softly, “are not characters to be trifled with.”
In the center of the hall, amidst the chaos, Anker slowly got up and stood tall and upright.
As if in that moment, he was the master of the entire hall.
“Everyone, their vile intentions shall not be forgiven by the gods. Their crimes shall not be tolerated by the heavens. Their actions undermine the rule of the throne and the foundation of the kingdom!”
The hostage-taker paused and turned around to stare at Thales.
“But you are right, Your Highness.”
Anker stowed the despair and defeat in his eyes, replacing them with perseverance and decisiveness.
“Don’t worry. I won’t commit murder at your banquet.” Anker drew the sword away from the old baron’s shoulders, allowing the latter to breathe a sigh of relief.
“That goes against the Byrael family precepts.”
Thales asked solemnly, “What are you doing then?
“What do you want?”
“I told you, Your Highness,” Anker revealed an enlightened smile, “Revenge.
“Or in your words, justice.”
Thales’ heart skipped a beat.
Behind him, Mallos turned around hurriedly. “Those that were dispatched to inform Renaissance Palace, have they reported back? How about Prime Minister Cullen? Count Caso? Or Lord Kirkirk Mann? Any of the lords in the Imperial Conference? The situation now can only be endorsed and decided by them…”
The guards exchanged looks. Only Vogel shook his head grimly.
“Count Caso left early after having too much to drink. The Minister of Finance followed suit. The Prime Minister was one of the earliest to leave.
‘Even if His Majesty was here…’
Vogel shut his mouth and kept the last sentence to himself.
“I cannot give a hasty verdict here purely based on your side of the story.”
Thales spoke laboriously. On one hand, he had to maintain the dignity of the royal family and the decency of a duke. On the other, he had to take into account the youth’s emotions, in hopes that the latter will not slit the baron’s throat in a fit of rage.
“I can only see what you…”
Anker looked up suddenly and interrupted him.
“Not necessary, Your Highness. Not necessary.”
His smile became bright and magnanimous, like a lost traveler who had found his way out of the desert. “I know. I understand. You sit in a high position, have many concerns, and bear the hope of the entire kingdom. I can’t and won’t force you to stand up for me, put you in a dilemma and have you offend multiple parties.”
Anker lowered his head and looked towards the old baron who did not even dare to breathe. There was hatred on his face. “But I am also aware, that this man has far-reaching connections and is skilled at toadying for personal gain. Whereas I am a lone ranger; it would be difficult for me to achieve anything without support.
“As soon as I leave this hall, my hopes will be crushed,” he said with a wry smile. His words were filled with resignation and sagacity. “In terms of delving into regulations, weighing interests, and playing the political game, I am no match for these cunning scoundrels, am I?”
Amid the chatter and gazes from the crowd, Thales gritted his teeth.
“So there is no need to bother others, nor involve multiple parties, let alone be in a dilemma, Your Highness,”
Anker stared at the short sword in his hand and slipped into a daze. “You just have to plainly, clearly, and directly end our grievances.”
He looked up towards Thales with longing eyes. “Just like what you did before.”
Thales reached for the arm of his seat, but in his state of shock grabbed a fistful of air instead.
But it’s too late.
“Your Highness, I ask of you. I, Anker Byrael of Crow Caw City, ask for your permission.”
Anker looked stern and continued brusquely, “Permit me to follow in your footsteps, replicate your past achievements, and recreate your glory!”
His footsteps, his past achievements, his glory…
Thales looked incredulously at the fanatical-looking Anker.
“Allow me to rouse the ancient constitutional traditions of the Age of the Empire, emulate the magnificent and heroic Rudollians, and reanimate your epic journey in Eckstedt…
“Doyle of Mirror River, this despicable man who killed my father and ruined my family, this scum amongst nobles…”
Thales felt a chill in his palms.
Anker discarded his cumbersome coat, pointed his sword at the ceiling, and bellowed so loud that the beams shook and the Everlasting Lamp swayed, “Allow me to challenge him.”
For a moment, the hall was silent.
Anker’s gaze was keen and he exuded unprecedented high spirits.
“Allow us, at the reopening of Mindis Hall after 18 years, between two nobles, between two families, engage in a great and glorious, fair and just…
“Duel to the death.”
Thales’ mind was wiped blank along with his expression.
“What the hell—” Before Vogel managed to voice his disbelief, a deafening buzz erupted from the crowd!
Within the span of a few seconds, discussions reached a fever-pitch.
Shock and displeasure intertwined and became indistinguishable.
“This is too much…”
“The uncivilized customs of the Northland barbarians? Is this a joke?”
“But I heard that it was a tradition that originated from the Age of the Empire…”
“So the rumors are true? High Highness challenged King Nuven?”
“His Highness witnessed King Nuven take his revenge against an archduke. It should be true…”
“What about King Nuven himself? Was he offed by King Chapman in a duel? Did His Highness witness this too?”
In the crowd, Jorge of Elaphure City used his physical advantage to shove past two guests in his way. He raised his arms and roared to stir emotions, “Excellent, a duel! Fuck him up! Long live the empire!”
Completely disregarding the glares of displeasure from Constelliates.
But the crowd’s buzz did not subside.
“I think it makes sense… Get your revenge and gain a reputation, I’d do it if it were me…”
“Don’t be ridiculous! So since you seduced my daughter, I can issue a challenge and get my revenge by killing you too?”
“How are you still hung up about this? Aren’t we friends? Don’t our families go way back? What can’t be resolved through discourse…”
“Friends? Who’s your friend? Like how you’re friendly towards my daughter? Pff!”
“Hey, do you think I don’t know? When my father died, you were in the study with my mother…”
“You shut your mouth! Scumbag! Come on, let’s duel!”
“Ahh no, this is too barbaric! I’m just a gentlewoman, I can’t bear to look. Papa, I’m leaving. Also
, remember to tell me the outcome of the duel…”
“Good niece. You should take care of yourself more at your age. I’ll pay you a visit some other day…”
“Asshole! I forbid you from saying another word to my daughter!”
Even though Constelliate nobles were known for their restraint and courtesy, Mindis Hall was in a state of chaos in that moment.
The guards had no choice but to divide their attention, staying alert towards the hostage-taker while strongly persuading and suppressing the raucous crowd that insisted on staying on.
“Your Highness, please be my witness, along with the entire kingdom.”
Anker exhaled slowly. He looked at ease, as if he had finally accomplished an arduous task. “Witnessing bravery and passion is not the exclusive privilege of Northlanders.
“Witnessing that justice lies in the hearts of everyone, and that taking revenge is an immutable right.”
On his tier, Thales endeavored to adjust his breathing. His head was throbbing.
He felt weary and drained.
The duke, after much effort, finally said, “Your request does not conform to the traditions of Constellation…”
“But you were the precedent!
“So Your Highness, this is not murder—as long as you give your permission and approval, and even stand witness, then it’s not.”
Anker’s voice seemed to have been projected from the skies; it was full of hope and anticipation.
“It’s what you witnessed in Eckstedt, it’s the example you set when you faced the Born King, it’s the courage and qualification that you are known for, it’s the method you used to uphold Constellation’s dignity and ensure the security of the kingdom, it is something passed down from ancient times and well-justified—”
Anker continued through gritted teeth, “Blood revenge!
“As you said, if there was another way, I would not want to commit murder. Your Highness, don’t let me resort to that.”
Thales pivoted his head mechanically and looked towards the old baron who had been rendered speechless.
“No, Your Highness!”
Behind him, Doyle broke free from Glover’s grasp, fell to his knees next to Thales and said in panic, “My father, he’s old, he can’t…”
“If you think it’s unfair,” Anker said from afar and looked at Doyle eagerly, goading him on, “Then allow the other Doyle—this old varmint’s son to face me and fight for his family and name. He is skilled. This will be a fair and exciting duel.”
His gaze was cold as he clenched his teeth and said, “Until one of us dies,”
Anker took a deep breath and raised his short sword. “After that, if I am still standing, I will surrender and accept any deserved punishment.
Doyle was as shocked as he was furious. He glared at this opponent that had driven his father and his family into a dead end.
“Your Highness, I can…”
Doyle subconsciously reached for his weapon, but was firmly restrained by Mallos and shoved back towards his colleagues.
“We got it wrong again. This assassination,” the watchman’s expression was unpleasant, “was indeed aimed at His Highness.
“In a different manner.”
Vogel looked grim. He stared at the troublemaker of the banquet and contemplated silently.
The voices of the crowd grew louder.
Thales stood solitary and helpless on the spot and endured their gazes:
There were watchful gazes from a few dukes, who were either waiting for a show, ruminating, or indifferent;
There were the gazes from the Seven Jadestar Attendants, who were mostly solemnly and impatiently waiting for the prince to react. There was both anticipation and wariness;
And there were gazes from everyone else.
But Thales was not in the mood to distinguish them.
In that moment, he recalled the words that Jines had said to him not too long ago.
“What can they do, eat me?”
“But they will rip you to shreds.”
“But… I am the son of the king, the heir to the king’s throne, right?”
Thales rubbed his forehead.
“That is correct.”
“So they will behave gently, elegantly, and politely as they…
“Tear you apart.”
‘Tear me apart…’
Amidst the commotion, the prince distractedly took a deep breath, closed his eyes and sighed.
“Therefore, please witness our duel, Your Highness.”
Anker welcomed death but was exhilarated. “Just like what you experienced in Eckstedt as the prince of Constellation,” he said, relieved and content, “No matter what the outcome, I will have no regrets.”
Anker Byrael, this person who had stirred up Thales’ homecoming banquet by his sole effort, took a deep breath and spoke, his voice penetrating through the crowd, “Because I believe, you are the hope of this kingdom.
“If the present and the past cannot be changed, then at least, in the future, compared to your father, you will be…”
Anker’s eyes were blazing. His voice was unique; it was extremely clear even amidst the endless chatter of the crowd.
In that moment, it was as if Mindis Hall was a well-coordinated orchestra, and a conductor had just gestured for the noise in the entire hall to disappear.
Mallos shut his eyes tight. ‘This is bad.’
“I believe, like many others do, that you will be better than him…”
Anker stepped forward, looked towards everyone and bellowed, “As the king of Constellation.”
Thales’ entire body tensed up!
For a few seconds, from dukes to counts, from guests to guards.
No one dared speak. No one dared to even breathe aloud.
The hall plunged into silence.
In the next moment, the chatter resumed.
But the arrogant aura and carefree spectating attitude from before had completely vanished.
The exchanges had become reserved and nervous, like uneasy whispers.
Which put everyone on edge.
And the gazes that nearly crushed Thales earlier were all being retracted. They looked towards elsewhere in the hall, as if it was sinful to stare at Thales further.
Thales took a deep breath and slowly sat down in his seat.
He did not even bother to look at the royal guards behind him—he did not have to guess to know what their reactions were.
Chatter, gazes, and emotions filled Mindis Hall to the brim, leaving no gaps.
But it left a square inch of foothold for the master of the hall.
Like a vacuum.
But Thales did not feel relieved in the slightest.
On the contrary, in this inch of vacuum, he could feel countless chains appear from a void and, from head to toe, from left to right, from front to back, lock down tightly on him without leaving any gaps.
Thales was expressionless. He maintained an elegant sitting posture as his nails bore into his palm.
Anker hoisted the tormented old baron and asked eagerly, “The duel?”
For a split second, Thales was nostalgic for his time as a hostage in the north.
What fucking duel.
Looking at it now, everything in those six years…
Whether it was a riotous day of state affair hearing, Northland barbarians packed into the Hall of Heroes, feudal dukes of Dragon Clouds City gnashing their teeth and itching to shred Thales into pieces, Nuven the Seventh harboring malicious intentions, or the overbearing Chapman Lampard…
All of it seemed genial and lovely.
“Your Highness,” beside Thales, Doyle, panic-stricken, looked at his master and pleaded, “Prince Thales? Your Grace? If…I am willing…I can win…That son of a bitch…”
Thales let out another sigh.
‘You can win.
The prince’s thoughts were in turmoil. Behind him, amid the tense atmosphere, the royal guards showed signs of activity.
“Tormond?” Vogel, who reawakened from his contemplation, suddenly and uncharacteristically called out Mallos’ first name instead of his family name or title.
The watchman turned around somberly.
“Your little squad of snipers…”
The vice-captain’s complexion was pale as ash. He stared at the eager-looking Anker Byrael, and formed his question cautiously and with much difficulty, “Are they still there?”
cute way of saying ‘uncle’
cute way of saying ‘brothers’